Julie Walker is a PhD student studying Interdisciplinary Ecology at the University of Florida. She is a part of the University of Florida and Smithsonian Institution partnership as a Marine Conservation Fellow. Her current research interests include studying the impact of climate-induced range shifts of tropical mangrove trees into neo-tropical wetlands on fish and other fauna, with a regional focus on the mangrove-saltmarsh ecotone in St. Augustine, FL. Julie’s future research goals include expanding her area of study to include ecological significance of loss and changes to foundation species across the globe as a result of anthropogenic stress.
Ashley Schenk, from Chattanooga, TN, is a doctoral student at Florida Atlantic University studying veterinary medicine with research focused on conducting an ecosystem survey of hogfish populations in South Florida.
Ryan Stolee, from Brooklyn Park, MN, is a graduate student at Florida Atlantic University studying biology with research focused on blacktip shark patterns and habitat uses during overwintering in South Florida.
Susan Snyder is a PhD candidate in the Marine Resource Assessment program at the University of South Florida. Her research interests include the study of anthropogenic pollution and its impacts on marine resources. As part of a project initiated in the aftermath of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, Snyder’s dissertation examines exposure to and accumulation of anthropogenic pollutants and associated negative health effects in Gulf of Mexico Golden Tilefish.
Brendan Talwar is a student at Florida International University pursuing a PhD in Biological Sciences. He is interested in conducting research on highly exploited fishes that will inform management. Currently, he is collecting data on the movements and trophic ecology of the silky shark, a highly migratory species that has experienced significant population declines in the western Atlantic in recent decades.
Joshua Manning is a PhD student in the Department of Biological Sciences at Florida State University. He is quantifying the effect of different parrotfish behaviors on the spatial patterning of benthic coral reef communities in Bonaire, Netherlands. He will work closely with STINAPA Bonaire to make the results of his research available to the Bonaire National Marine Park for use in management decisions, but hopes the results of his work will inform management practices for coral reefs globally.
Sarah Luongo is a third year Ph.D. student in the Department of Biological Sciences at Florida International University. She is studying the physiology and behavioral ecology of the critically endangered Nassau grouper. Her research will measure energy and space use requirements to predict how they may be impacting the recovery of this species.
Drew Butkowski is a second year Ph.D. student in the Department of Biological Sciences at Florida International University. He is studying seascape ecology and assessing the trade-offs reef fish make when foraging across habitat patches. His work will provide a framework to predict the implications of habitat patch degradation and loss in South Florida.
2018 Aylesworth Scholars
Bryan Keller is pursuing a Ph.D. in biological oceanography at Florida State University. He is studying the spatial ecology and seasonal migrations of coastal sharks. Before beginning his Ph.D. program, the certified scuba diver worked as a scientific director at Global Eco Adventures, and as a team member for the Bimini Biological Field Station in the Bahamas. After completing his Ph.D., he hopes to secure a post-doctoral position with a state agency to conduct fishery-based research.
James Conrad is a Ph.D. student studying biology at the University of South Florida. He is studying why the human pathogen Vibrio vulnificus, which is found in warm coastal waters and is known to accumulate in shellfish, is capable of causing disease in some environments at certain times of the years, but not others. To do this, he is researching whether modifications to the genetic material of the organism contribute to the harmfulness of Vibrio, which is sometimes mistakenly referred to as “flesh-eating bacteria.”
2018 Florida Outdoor Writers Association Scholars
Marwan Alenezi is a graduate student in journalism at the University of Miami School of Communication. He videos and photographs for the Miami Herald Neighbors section, and has produced a film documentary on invasive species in Florida. In addition to English he speaks Spanish and Arabic, and is a certified PADI dive master. He received the University of Miami Outstanding graduate student award in journalism and media management.
Emily Mavrakis is an undergraduate journalism major at the University of Florida College of Journalism and Communications. She was the first science writer intern at the Florida Museum of Natural History and is currently interning at the Gainesville Sun. Her career goal is to become an environmental reporter upon graduation. She is currently working on a story that maps and displays how Alachua County residents use the county’s extensive network of state park trails so that residents can better use and enjoy these valuable resources.
2018 Florida Sea Grant Scholars
Alexis Sturm is a Ph.D. student studying integrative biology at the Florida Atlantic University Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute. For her dissertation research, she is assessing the level of connectivity among populations of corals in Cuba and the Florida Keys. She does this by investigating whether the coral populations are genetically similar, through the sampling and extraction of DNA.
Kendal Jackson is a Ph.D. student studying applied anthropology at the University of South Florida. For his dissertation, he is studying fossilized pollen grains in soils along Florida’s Gulf coast to better understand how ancient coastal environments have changed over time.
Kwanmok Kim is a Ph.D. student studying interdisciplinary ecology at the University of Florida School of Natural Resources and Environment. For his research, he is studying the spaces between oyster clusters, which are referred to as interstitial spaces in scientific literature. These spaces are important refuge for prey species such as crabs. The shapes and sizes of these interstitial spaces are crucial to understanding species interaction in the ecosystem.
Jamila Roth is pursuing her Ph.D. in interdisciplinary ecology at the University of Florida School of Natural Resources and Environment. For her dissertation, she is studying how human-related stressors, such as increased phosphorous from sewage and agriculture, as well as warming temperatures, affect seagrasses and the animals that depend on them.
2018 Knauss Marine Policy Fellows
Kathryn Lohr is a Ph.D. student in the fisheries and aquatic sciences program within the University of Florida’s School of Forest Resources and Conservation. For her dissertation, she is studying ways to improve coral restoration planting techniques to increase survival rates of transplanted corals. She is set to graduate December 2018. For her Knauss Fellowship, Lohr will be working in NOAA’s Office of Marine Sanctuaries.
Bianca Prohaska earned her Ph.D. in ecology and evolution from Florida State University. For her dissertation, she investigated potential effects of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on the reproductive and stress physiology of sharks, skates and rays. The recent graduate will be spending 2019 working for NOAA’s Ocean and Atmospheric Research International Activities Office.
Emma Hollowell is a recent graduate of the University of Miami School of Law where she earned a J.D. with a focus on environmental law. While earning her degree, she worked with the UM Law Environmental Justice Clinic to find compensation and remediation for the City of Miami’s West Grove community, a formerly segregated Afro-Caribbean and African American community that shouldered disproportionate levels of environmental pollution. In her fellowship, she will be working as a policy liaison for the United States Department of the Navy.
Nature Coast Biological Station Scholar
Hannah Brown is a Ph.D. student studying interdisciplinary ecology at the University of Florida. Her dissertation research is focused on oyster restoration projects along the Gulf Coast and how various stakeholders involved in those projects communicate and network. She says the goal of her project is to assess how the knowledge about restoration projects, held by oyster growers, coastal managers and scientists, is shared between groups to make recommendations for future efforts.